Form as Freedom

November 16, 2012
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“Far from wishing to waken the artist in the pupil prematurely, the teacher considers it his first task to make him a skilled artisan with sovereign control of his craft. The pupil follows out this intention with untiring industry. As though he had no higher aspirations he bows under his burden with a kind of obtuse devotion, only to discover in the course of years that forms which he perfectly masters no longer oppress but liberate. He grows daily more capable of following any inspiration without technical effort, and also of letting inspiration come to him through meticulous observation. The hand that guides the brush has already caught and executed what floated before the mind at the same moment the mind began to form it, and in the end the pupil no longer knows which of the two – mind or hand – was responsible for the work.”

- Eugen Herrigel, Zen in the Art of Archery

JS Comment:

Many traders who struggle — and ultimately wash out of markets — have a problem with “going from form to form,” or method to method, without attaining true foundational proficiency in any of them.

This is comparable to a would-be musician going from one instrument to another, each time quitting after six to twelve months… or a wildcat oil speculator, drilling dry holes all over the Texas panhandle, while never breaking 800 feet. (One could drill five thousand different holes, and still come to nothing that way.)

There is a rush to reach proficiency, and premature desire to express a style, that winds up fueling disappointment.

But the old calligraphy masters knew that, far from stifling creativity, early devotion to form facilitates true freedom of expression later.

How deeply have you explored the form of your bread and butter market approach? Do you strive to attain “sovereign control of your craft?”

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2 Responses to Form as Freedom

  1. Darrin on November 19, 2012 at 11:00 am

    JS,
    Great Post. I really enjoy your emphasis on Mastery. Keep up the good work!

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